Police Undermine Educational Mission 12-19-18

Oregon Live / The Oregonian

The Portland School Board should rethink its decision to pay for police officers in schools (“Portland School Board votes to pay for police in schools amid outcry,” Dec. 12).

Our experience, borne out by studies, is that police are deployed in schools in haphazard ways, rarely receive appropriate training in education law, adolescent psychology, or de-escalation strategies, and respond in ways that undermine the educational mission of a school.

Parents are not made aware of what behaviors can put their children in legal jeopardy. Moreover, there is very little evidence that putting more police in schools actually makes them safer.

What it does do is cause anxiety and confusion about roles and boundaries and often contributes to a negative school climate. The concerns expressed by School Board member Julie Esparza Brown that students of color would be adversely affected by beefed up police presence are, unfortunately, all too often proven to be true. That is precisely why my organization, Strategies for Youth, created a “checklist” to provide parents with a set of questions to help them understand the scope of authority of law enforcement deployed in their children’s schools.

At the very least, the board should slow down, listen closely to concerns expressed by parents, students, and community members, and consider how $1.2 million might be used to better effect before committing to a plan that may cause more problems than it solves.

The Article on Oregon Live »